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Virtue Signal. Progressives Whistle Passed the Graveyard.

“Well now everything dies, baby that’s a fact,
But maybe everything that dies, someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City”

— Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.”

— Joseph Heller, Catch-22



A few days ago the pseudo-left super hero, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, had a brief back and forth with corporate blow up doll, Anderson Cooper.

AOC (she of the cool moniker) laid out what she readily admits is, in the context of contemporary American politics, a radical agenda. Cooper, coughing up a lung, anxiety about his trust fund, and a corporate sense that the system of which he is a prince is teetering on the brink of collapse, tried to corner her as a not so subtle Trotskyist.

Needless to say it did not objectively succeed though for the dull witted CNN liberals and the febrile reactionaries it was a win for Cooper running away – with AOC revealed to be some sort of Maoist.

Needless to say she’s not a Maoist or a Trotskyist or even really much of a leftist but while correct on points – the environment is collapsing and until and unless the ruling class is forced to pay their taxes and the infrastructure is transformed from a capitalist one to a socialist one with sustainable energy substituted for fossil fuels we’re all going to die – she’s catastrophically wrong in her belief that the system can be changed by the system.*

This bring us to the so-called Progressive or alternative media. Specifically we refer to The Majority Report with Sam Seder and some other well-intentioned if daft Muppets, which has a video about AOC/Cooper in which while correct on points – Cooper is a corporate hack and AOC is right when she says Lincoln was a radical and FDR was a radical and we have to change the system or we’re all going to die – the fact is she’s advocating what amounts to a tepid liberalism or New Deal 2.0 in the face of a corporate dictatorship and Murder Incorporated.

Majority Report of course is too busy displaying its virtue and wielding snark at Cooper and in defense of AOC to bother with the ugly truth.

The corporatists are never going to surrender until or unless someone puts a gun to their head. Consider the well documented history of the response to labor in America. Death, torture, blackmail, corruption, organized crime, disorganized crime and a decadent and depraved whore house passing laws that empower the gangsters and disenfranchise everyone trying to change the system.

AOC is not wrong. The environment is going to collapse. You’re going to die. We’re all going to die.

But she is catastrophically wrong to believe that charm, reason, passion righteous indignation and good looks are going to prevail over greed, ignorance, violence, corruption and an unshakable belief in a literal interpretation of the bible by people like Mike Pence, who has the ethics of a virus.

The current battle between power groups; between demographic and historical wind shears, is nothing new. At the beginning of the 20th century there were approximately a hundred socialist mayors in office across America. Socialist parties dominated city halls, state legislatures and were, through union organizing and education and civil disobedience, a force to be reckoned with.

So, of course the corporate dictatorship (what used to be called the ruling class and now, in an effort to soft sell the Progressive agenda is politely called, the “1%”) reckoned with them. The Palmer Raids were not only an unconstitutional power grab and not only the corrupt grandfather of the unconstitutional Patriot Act but were also the parent of J. Edgar Hoover.

The unions were crushed. The left was broken – arrested, exiled, co-opted, and executed. The truth is FDR’s radical agenda only succeeded because the Japanese decided to risk everything and conduct their version of the utterly idiotic idea that you can fight a land war in Asia.

What, said the Japanese military, in December of 1941, is the worst that can happen?

Short of a world war and a complete collapse of the economy, there will not be another FDR. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are not once in a generation leaders however correct they may be on the details. AOC isn’t one either.

When the environment collapses – and it will – events will unfold in a predictable fashion.

Majority Report has fallen for the hype and the diversion and spins its own iterations of both. The issue is not that Anderson Cooper is a corporate shill (which he is). The issue is not that AOC is wrong per se because, she is not wrong. The issue is that the corporate dictatorship will never yield and will as it always has, use violence to maintain its power.

AOC believes you can use the system to change the system. You can’t. In the end as the environment collapses the corporatists will use it as a pretext to declare a “state of emergency.” The already ginned up militias, the loose affiliation of white supremacists, reactionaries, neo fascists and assorted survivalists, in conjunction with cadres within the establishment, will be all too willing to use the pretext of environmental crisis to try and establish a dystopian tyranny. The system can not be used to change the system. Revolution is not a choice. It’s historically inevitable and that is tragic. But then, so is the alternative.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.




Update: 3/18/19

More accurate and useless handwringing:

*An important nuance:  Critics would say, “The system” includes significant changes like the right to vote and the end of slavery and the 8 hour work day.

They’re not wrong.

What they tend to leave out is that people had to die to make those changes, and once the system adapted it metastasized new forms of control, terror, corruption and political nihilism.

If the “Democratic Socialists” were serious they’d be organizing rolling strikes and the convening of a constitutional convention for the purpose of amending the constitution to allow for the dissolving of the federal government.

Instead it’s the dreary paint by numbers gradualism and self righteous certainties of tepid reform in the face of a disaster.

So it goes. 

6 comments on “Virtue Signal. Progressives Whistle Passed the Graveyard.

  1. That was a great summary. And the conclusion was spot on: “The system can not be used to change the system. Revolution is not a choice. It’s historically inevitable and that is tragic. But then, so is the alternative.”

    It’s almost amusing to watch all sides try to dance around this simple truth. Does it matter which side wins when, in the end, there won’t be much left for the victor to claim? Do progressives and liberals hope to impose fairness and equality on a collapsing civilization? No doubt we will be equalized in our shared fate, not that it will be fair. As for reactionaries and right-wingers, do they aspire to be rulers of the rubble in the aftermath?

    The radical actions needed to save us from total destruction are what few are willing to consider. At this point, the best we could hope for is a soft landing as we crash. That would mean stockpiling supplies for post-apocalyptic existence and build enclosed cities to buffer the environmental and social chaos. In any case, civilization as we now know it is doomed. All we can do is work toward a new kind of civilization, smaller and less ambitious. That will mean prioritizing survival first and worrying about everything else after that.

    Capitalism is already dead. We need to bury its bloated corpse. It is decaying and beginning to stink.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rauldukeblog says:

      I’ve been thinking lately about a line of argument from old establishment pol Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Back in the mid 80s he pushed the argument that “Reagenomics” was designed to crash the system as a way to force jettisoning the New Deal and the “Great Society.”

      The current version is a combination of doing nothing as the environment collapses and the other being the evangelicals who will say environmental collapse is biblical and to fight it is a sin.

      It is not hard to imagine any number of environmentally induced crisis that overwhelm the system’s resources and like a Reichstag Fire 2.0 gives the biblical nuts and the cynics and the militia types the excuses they need.

      Handmaid’s Tale as a how to manual instead of a warning.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There was the whole starve the beast strategy. The GOP combined that with two Santa Claus. The purpose was to force government into debt and cripple it.

        They sort of succeeded. Reagan did create a permanent debt that Republicans have been able to use as a cudgel ever since. And no doubt the Great Society was put out of commission. With the help of Democratic triangulation, this led to corporate takeover.

        Not exactly collapse but the end of any hope for a free society of any variety or anything slightly resembling it. Maybe we are moving to the next stage in the game plan. Now they’ve knocked out all the protections against authoritarianism, they can make the final push to the goal zone.

        Maybe environmental catastrophe is part of the plan. Or something potentially useful. Not to be avoided but embraced. Those in power probably assume they will survive and thrive in the post-apocalyptic aftermath. Eliminate the excess population and surplus workers. Then build their utopian plutocracy.

        I do wonder how many demented authoritarians look to The Handmaid’s Tale and find inspiration.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rauldukeblog says:

        “I do wonder how many demented authoritarians look to The Handmaid’s Tale and find inspiration.”

        Too many.

        Puts me in mind of A Dog and His Boy – a post apocalyptic movie from the 70s. Jason Robards is the dictator of an authoritarian cult that looks like Kansas circa 1910.

        A Mike Pence wet dream.


      3. Ah yeah, A Dog and His Boy. That is a good movie. Depressing as hell! From the wonderful imagination of Harlan Ellison.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. rauldukeblog says:

        Harlan once had a fight with Sinatra in a bar because Sinatra didn’t like Harlan’s shoes. 😉

        And the movie is depressing but good.

        Liked by 1 person

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